With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available and with overall lower virus infection rates, many employers are discussing and making plans to have teams soon re-enter their physical office/workplace spaces.
Yet employers face a bigger question at the same time: what kind of employee vaccination plan should they put in place? Should employers make vaccination mandatory, voluntary or via a hybrid plan based on employee roles and related factors? Plus, what are the risks to employee health and well-being with any of these options?
All told, legal and public health experts at the moment suggest significant uncertainty remains around the issue of employer-mandated vaccination.
With litigation and state legislative action likely to get underway soon on this question, it may be prudent for most employers to wait and see how things evolve on these fronts before making firm decisions in regard to vaccination plans for employees.
This is especially so since most Americans (beyond the elderly, essential workers and related priority vaccination groups) likely will not have access to vaccines until this spring or summer.
At the same time, to help with your planning process in developing an employee vaccination plan, one of the key steps will be to determine if there is a business necessity for your employees (or employees in specific roles) to be vaccinated. When thinking about and creating a vaccination policy, it should:
- Allow for certain exceptions
- Be job-related
- Be consistent with business necessity
If you move to implement a mandatory vaccine policy, for example, it must include exceptions for employees who: 1) cannot be vaccinated because of pre-existing conditions or 2) have sincerely held religious beliefs.
impactAction: With the ongoing and evolving complexity on this issue for employers, please do not hesitate to contact us for any assistance we can provide: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443-741-3900.
Combating Phishing Scams to Protect Your Employees and Company
Phishing scams, to put a fine point on it, are a scourge in our digital world. These scams, which are fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information or data by impersonating oneself as a trustworthy entity in a digital communication, can negatively impact companies and organizations.
The good news is there are ways to fight back and protect your employees and your organization’s data security integrity.
One key way to protect your company from phishing scams is to have a policy and practice of never emailing sensitive employee information. Employees, for example, should never email sensitive employee information such as W-2s, benefit enrollment forms, completed census forms, or anything with social security or credit card numbers.
Scammers, in these cases, easily pose as company executives or employees to steal information. When receiving a request to email any sensitive information, employees should not respond to the request and, instead, first inform their manager immediately.
Another key step is to communicate to your employees information about the kinds of incoming emails and other communications (e.g., texts, calls) that are likely to be suspicious and to be avoided: Here are a few examples of common phishing scams:
- A notice from your email provider suggesting you change your password
- A message from the IRS asking you to click a link, open an attachment or provide information
- A message asking you to click a link to pay fines or penalties
- A request for W-2s or payroll records
- A request for names, birth dates, home addresses, salaries and Social Security numbers
impactAction: If you have questions or want to learn more about protecting your company from these scams, contact us at email@example.com or 443-741-3900.
Reminder: New Equal Pay Rules Apply to Maryland Employers
For Maryland employers, a reminder that the state’s recently amended Equal Pay for Equal Work law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who make an inquiry about their own wages. (This restriction previously only applied if employees made an inquiry about another employee’s wages.)
The law, amended by the Maryland General Assembly last fall, also 1) bans employers from making salary history inquiries of any kind with job applicants and 2) requires employers to provide job applicants with the wage range for the position they are applying for if they ask.
In response to these new regulations, employers should:
- Remove any language related to pay secrecy from all HR-related written materials
- Ensure managers understand the right to discuss compensation cannot be waived
- Train company recruiters and job interviewers to avoid salary history questions and disregard any information volunteered by an interviewee
- Delete requests for salary history on job application forms
impactAction: If you need assistance complying with these rules, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
Well-Crafted Job Descriptions Matter in Recruiting
As your 2021 recruiting efforts start gathering steam, keep one thing in mind: don’t overlook the importance of your company’s job descriptions.
Well-defined and clearly written job descriptions serve multiple purposes, but generally operate as a:
- Workforce management tool to define employees’ roles and responsibilities
- Way to recruit candidates for open positions
Ultimately, the development of job descriptions for every role in your organization serves a number of key business goals, including:
Recruitment: To attract “best fit” candidates for your open positions, the job description should be re-written into a “job posting.” The posting (or ad) is a succinct, distilled explanation of the open position (derived from your formal job description) with marketing language that promotes the company and its vision/mission.
Onboarding: You’ve made your hire and are welcoming a new employee into your company. In the onboarding process, go over the job description (and other details as part of the new employment packet) with your new employee.
Performance management: Job descriptions should detail how you and your managers will establish accountability for your employees and expectations for their growth and success. For each role in your company, its corresponding job description should exist as a living document and be updated regularly.
Evaluating reasonable accommodations: Especially with changed workplace dynamics with the pandemic, include specific information about physical job requirements and working conditions in your job descriptions.
All told, job descriptions aid in setting the tone for your company’s culture and performance expectations, helping to define your brand.
impactAction: If you’d like to learn more about developing effective job descriptions for your employees, contact us at email@example.com or call 443-741-3900.
SBA: PPP Loans Focused on Smallest Businesses
The US Small Business Administration has announced it will offer Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to businesses with 20 or fewer employees and sole proprietors only from Feb. 24 through March 10, 2021.
This special SBA two-week plan aims to give lenders and community partners more time to work with the smallest businesses to submit their PPP applications (while also ensuring larger PPP-eligible businesses still have time to apply for and receive support before the overall program expires on March 31, 2021). Learn more.
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